Domino's Turnaround – How To Face a Brand Crisis Head-On

Domino's "Pizza Turnaround"

The lead up to Domino's 2009 "Pizza Turnaround" marketing campaign was a difficult time for this longstanding pizza brand. Sales were down, and an unsightly video went viral. 



The video posted of two employees joking around and handling food in a manner that would disgust even the most hardened health inspector. The fallout for the brand was almost immediate, and a survey by the reputable consumer research firm Brand Keys put the quality of Domino's in a tie for the last place with Chuck E. Cheese.

When you're sharing the bottom rung with a chain whose focus seems to be more on Skee-Ball and kids' birthday parties than on pizza, you know that something is very wrong. Instead of dancing around the grumblings of people unhappy with their brand, Domino’s faced this criticism head-on.


Facing a brand crisis begins with honesty

Thus began their “Pizza Turnaround” campaign with the December 2009 release of a branded documentary video addressing their pizza quality in a brutally honest way.



Ominous music swells as real customer comments fill the screen. Gripes like “the crust seemed lacking,” and “mass produced, boring, bland pizza,” build up to the crescendo of all complaints, microwave pizza is far superior.” OUCH.


The video cuts to then CEO Patrick Doyle. This is the moment they’re either going to try and minimize the damage or be direct with their consumers. Doyle responds, “There comes a time to make a change.” Domino’s makes the right choice.


An explosion then sounds, a metaphor for Domino's willingness to blow up their past, clear the rubble, and start anew. The rest of the video is full of upbeat rock music. We see the efforts they’re putting into in improving every part of their pizza. It all has a documentary feel. It shows that they are a brand based on authenticity who cares about pizza and making their customers happy.


Many recommend not to feed the trolls when dealing with negative comments. Domino’s not only fed the trolls but served them pizza made with an entirely new and better recipe.


Great pizza + technology = $$$

Changing their pizza and related marketing efforts paid off. Forbes reported that Domino’s knocked out Pizza Hut and became the #1 pizza chain in 2017 with 5.9 billion in annual sales. But pizza is just one part of their success. They’ve also become a tech giant, staying on top of innovations that make ordering even easier.


You can order Domino’s via Twitter, on your Apple Watch, and even on Facebook Messenger. Their AnyWare app lets you purchase their pizza through Amazon Echo or Google Home. They have a zero-click app that makes sending one of their pizzas your way almost effortless (though you will still have to get off of your couch when you hear the delivery person knocking). They’re working on implementing AI to handle phone orders.

Domino’s has also begun experimenting with self-driving cars, with Ford Fusions delivering pizzas without the assistance of a driver. How to tip such a self-driving car hasn’t been worked out, but we’re sure there’s a team of fancy researchers working on it.


Where big brands stall, Domino’s moves straight ahead

Not many brands can come out of a brand tailspin by admitting that what they’ve been serving their customers isn’t good. Where some brands struggle with transparency, Domino’s went all in with being open and truthful. They improved their pizzas, stayed ahead of their competition with ordering technology and continue to evolve as a company. The phrase “to fall like dominos” is parlance for a mass collapse. But for this purveyor of pizza, to fall like Domino’s means an ascent to greater success.



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